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Space Utilization, Employee Experience, Corporate Real Estate Strategy - 4 min read

Your conference rooms are already perfect for the COVID-19 office

Daan Wonnink July 2, 2020

The global virus outbreak has led to our offices being empty. Companies are now defining how to re-enter the office and opinions on what the office will look like span a whole spectrum of possibilities. Fact is, we just don’t know yet how things will change exactly. We’ll need to adjust, learn and adapt continuously.

Conference rooms play a crucial role in offices. Most of you probably agree, that in most offices we worked in, there was something wrong with them. Either they were way too large for the number of people frequently using them, or there weren’t enough of them, office planners never seemed to get it just right.

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Last year, we launched our Conference Room Analytics module in BID and we thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look at how conference rooms were used before the COVID-19 lockdown. My colleague Christina took a dive into this data, and the findings are quite interesting: 

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The analysis of pre-COVID conference room data from our network shows that current meeting room sizes are perfect for the new situation. For example, prior to COVID-19, even the conference room size category that was ‘best’ utilized, was only used to 58% of its capacity on average. These best used conference rooms had a capacity of 3-4 people and with a 58% mean utilization rate, they had on average 1,7 empty seats. 

Looking at the data, it’s interesting to see that meeting rooms categorized in size ‘M’ (5 to 7 seats) and ‘L’ (8 to 12 seats) were less than half full when in use (on average). The average number of people in the largest meeting rooms was even lower. This indicates that upon re-entry, the challenge isn’t the capacity of meeting rooms. 

In the new situation, we’ll need more space per person. How much space and ‘social’ distance is required, of course depends on local government regulations. But it is reassuring to know that even in the pre-COVID situation, utilization in conference rooms was pretty close to post-COVID standards. Without making too many changes to the layout of meeting rooms, we should be able to facilitate the demand for meeting rooms as we re-enter the office. What should perhaps be changed and regulated a bit more strictly, is how you allow people to gather in conference rooms. Continuing to listen to your employees, and drawing insights from utilization data, will help re-imagine conference rooms and the office of the future. I’m curious to hear your thoughts here.

What is your approach to facilitating meetings in the ‘new normal’?

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Daan Wonnink

Daan loves to be a pioneer and create new ideas. As a marketeer, he is always looking to gain new insights, validating these insights with data. He is driven by long-term vision.